Author's Notes:- Once upon a time, there was an idea. A creeping little idea about networking that should, at most, have been a comic little one-off that was then forgotten. Life doesn't work like that however. Characters developed voices, and next thing I knew this thing had chapters and I was being coaxed into making it a backstory for Nanowrimo. It looks like I may be here for some time.
I've marked this T for now, but because of the nature of this story, I'm not sure of that rating. There's no sex, but there is some networking. If you think it should be higher, please tell me. It can be changed.
There was a newcomer in the house.
It gleamed in the corner, its shape and form unlike anything the PC had ever seen before. The cool white surface, the smooth tempting curves. It was undeniably beautiful.
Beside it the PC felt suddenly self-conscious, aware of its own build – clunky and clumsy in comparison. It watched as the Mac powered up, marvelling at its operating system – so different from Windows! The PC couldn't help but stare, wavering on the edge between envy and hatred.
The humans didn't help. It was obvious that, as the new computer in the house, the Mac was something to be fussed over, and marvelled at. Neglected, the PC sulked, furious and jealous. When they finally did turn it on it was still sulking, running far slower than it usually did. When they tried to reach their files it crashed, turning its back on them and showing them only a blue screen of death. That would show them.
It didn't help though. Usually such sulky responses elicited the comfort it required. Normally having crashed in such a way it would have found itself booted up in safe mode, the humans would have run a defrag, done a disk clean-up. If even that didn't bring its forgiveness they would turn to pleadings and entreaties, promising new RAM, a larger hard drive, anything as long as it would let them near their files again.
Today though it didn't work like that. Today they simply rebooted it and left it running, turning back to the Mac, and the PC glared, hating it with every byte of its data.
What was so good about the Mac anyway? Certainly it was pretty but surely functionality should be favoured over form any day. It was fast – but the PC too had been speedy in its younger days before its hard drive became cluttered, its temporary files filled with worthless junk. It seemed to be good at art but… well, there was nothing the PC could really offer to compete with that. But games, ah, it was no good at games. There, the PC was far ahead of it. It stared at the humans with all of the power its monitor could gather, trying to tempt them back.
Sure it's younger and prettier than me, but it's not worth it. It pleaded with them silently, Don't trade me in for a younger model. Look! I have Sims 2 Nightlife! Can your shiny new Mac offer you that?
Today however was not the PC's day. Once bored with the Mac, rather than turning back to it, they wandered away – to class, to eat, to do whatever strange things humans did when not in the computer room, leaving the Mac and the PC together.
At first the PC simply glared, attempting to give the Mac the silent treatment. The Mac's fan took on an entreating hum however. The PC tried to ignore it, even switching its screensaver on to show much it wasn't paying attention.
It was hard though, to ignore that pleading little whine.
What's wrong with you? It asked finally, voice gruff and unfriendly, trying to discourage it.
I'm lonely. The Mac's speakers gave an odd little sound. It could have been feedback from the cellphone sitting next to it, or it could have been something more.
Lonely? The PC had never heard of such a thing. Built in isolation, with only the company of the human who slotted in its components, it had never thought to worry about loneliness.
In the shop there were lots of us. The Mac explained, its speakers giving off another sad little squeak. It was full of family – iBooks, and iMacs – even our little brothers, the Mac Minis. Here, there's only you, and you.. Another squeak, You don't like me.
It took a moment considering that before the PC softened a little. After all, the Mac was very young. It wasn't to know how fickle humans were – every day a new operating system, or new browser, always searching for something better and speedier. They simply weren't capable of being monogamous.
I don't have any brothers. It said, a touch of boastful pride in its voice, My humans built me from scratch. I am unique. More gently it added, I don't hate you. You just so… different. Sometimes we've had laptops in here but they were nothing like you.
I'm sorry! The speakers were giving serious amounts of feedback now, the Mac's monitor seeming to flicker with suppressed emotion.
The PC realised it had to say something soothing or the Mac might end up crashing completely. No, no, it's not a bad thing. It said hurriedly, You're, you're very pretty in fact. Just not something I'm used to.
Oh. For a moment the feedback died down, the Mac going quiet as it took that in. You really think I'm pretty?
Very pretty! The PC agreed quickly. Anything to calm the Mac down before the humans returned and realised something was wrong.
Though, actually, perhaps that wasn't such a bad idea. How would the humans feel if they knew their precious new Mac had been corrupted by their dirty old PC? It was a dirty thought, a nasty spiteful little thought, but so tempting…
You know, It said, its voice forcedly casual, if you really are lonely we could networkup?
Oh! The Mac's monitor gave a startled little flicker, a little shocked, perhaps a little frightened. I… I've never done that before. It admitted nervously, I heard… can't you catch things? Viruses?
Not if we use a firewall. The PC reassured. It's okay. I've done this before. I know what I'm doing. Carefully it flipped its wireless connection on and reached out through the router, seeking, searching, grasping…
It was met tentatively at first, the connection flickering between the two and then flickering out again as the Mac flinched away. It took coaxing, gentling, soothing, before the Mac would let it in. Nothing bad will happen. The PC reassured it, I won't hurt you. It's just…just a sharing. Making ourselves part of each other. I will be inside you in a way, sharing your drives… but you will also be inside me. It's okay to let me in.
Still, there was a moment's resistance and fear before the Mac finally opened up to the PC, and when it finally did the PC was so surprised that it almost forgot what to do. For a moment they paused, both frozen in place, and then with a rush of bandwidth and data they loosed themselves into each other, seeking, sharing, becoming one.
As they did so, all hostilities and fear seemed to fade away. The two computers suddenly saw inside each other, all of the similarities and differences laid out plainly. Each had its own imperfections, and yet each also had its specialities. The PC relaxed, suddenly not feeling quite so threatened, and the Max also seemed to lose a little of its unhappiness as the loneliness flowed away.
The humans wondered, when they returned, how the wireless connection they had struggled for hours without success to set up had somehow set itself up without them present. Though puzzled, they were relieved at finally being able to sit themselves down and get on with their works.
After all, it's maddening the issues you can have when computers just won't talk to each other.